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Technology key to solving housing inaccessibility

Online matching programs could increase accessible housing options for people with disability

New housing technology the likes of which both Airbnb and Uber operate under could improve the lives of people with disabilities, new research has found.

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), along with both RMIT University and Swinburne University, discovered that market matching algorithms that match landlords and owners of accessible housing could be key to disability housing.

Lead Researcher at RMIT University, Andrea Sharam, said: “Currently, the accessible housing market suffers because accessible housing is not registered and people living with a disability cannot easily find what exists.

“Further, home owners often remove accessible features prior to selling or letting, as they are seen to lower the property’s value. However, for some buyers and tenants, these are just the things they are looking for.”

Between 80,000 and 120,000 people with disability is registered for the NDIS, many who are among the poorest in the country, and are unable to find affordable housing. The new research investigated five important aspects of Australia’s housing market that could be improved using new technology, including matching buyers and sellers.

The research found that by using online computing technology, finding matches could reduce transaction costs for buyers and sellers in specialised sectors of housing.

The online inventory of accessible housing – or housing adapted from Commonwealth Home Support Programme, Home Care Packages Program or transport accident agencies – could become the basis for a national match making program. People with a disability could become members and provide information on their needs.

Sharam said that a critical measure for the program to work is the requirement for mandatory disclosure of accessibility by owners, as enforced by the Government.

“The ability to discover the housing needs of people living with disability is also important for housing developers who struggle to obtain development finance as the depth of this market is not well understood,” she added.

The other four housing markets the research considered are low-cost private rental housing, apartment supply for low to middle income earners, precinct-level urban redevelopment and swaps and transfers in public housing.

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